Why the world needs to act:
Beginning last summer a series of riots broke out in Rakhine State, in western Burma. While these clashes were reported as “sectarian violence” by most news outlets, the truth of the matter was that the Rohingya, whom were stripped of their citizenship in 1982, were systematically killed, brutalized, displaced, and in many cases forced out of the country to complete uncertainty. Similar events occurred the following October, with identical results. Now literally hundreds of thousands have lost their homes and are living in camps for internally displaced people, many of which are under constant lockdown, and they are not permitted to leave from the camps. These camps are very often under blockade and will not receive food or medicine, especially the numerous camps which are not allowed to be registered. As if starving was not bad enough, vast numbers of the camps have been built upon swampy foundations that only lend to disease. Literally people are dying almost daily in these conditions. For the past month, activists and NGO’s have been warning that when monsoon season comes, over a hundred thousand human lives will be severely at risk.
These warnings are now coming to fruition as cyclone makes its way in the Bay of the Bengal towards Burma and Bangladesh. Human Rights Watch has estimated 140,000 Rohingya IDPs in its path, 17,000 refused registration by the Burmese government will not be allowed to take shelter. They will take the brunt of the storm, and if no one acts, it is almost certain the majority of them will die. Those who survive will live with what little they had before completely destroyed. All to the silence of the world.
All of these things have happened either with direct government approval or in many cases with direct involvement of the government of Myanmar. In this past month military forces have been going to the remaining Rohingya neighborhoods under threat and trying to force census documents where they claim the Identity of Bengali immigrants, an obvious attempt to justify their expulsion from the country, although their history in the country can be traced back anywhere from 300-800 years in the area they now live in. Several Rohingya in Rakhine state have reported that those refusing to sign themselves as Bengali immigrants, or those protesting against the forced census have been arrested, beaten, tortured, and there are even reports of some that have been killed. There is no existing way to confirm these reports, but sources are conveying, daily stories of horror and agony. Human Rights Watch released a 60 page document this past month entitled “All You Can Do is Pray” detailing at length the persecution of Muslims in Burma, and the government’s hand in these events.
While all world governments and the UN are entirely aware that this is happening they have been increasingly lenient with the Burmese government, which has only allowed the situation to deteriorate further, and made life for the Rohingya increasingly difficult and regrettably with very little to find hope in. Without international action this trend will continue, and the results will be increasingly horrific. This is why we are calling on all the people, from all the nations to mark June 1st as an international day of protest for the Rohingya. We call on people to organize street protests, fundraisers, speaking events, social media events, anything, anything to help the Rohingya where the rest of the world has found them convenient to forget.